UNC Baseball: Diamond Heels set to take on UNC-Wilmington to open postseason

OMAHA, NE - JUNE 21: Head coach Mike Fox
OMAHA, NE - JUNE 21: Head coach Mike Fox /

The North Carolina Tar Heels’ baseball team is hoping to ride their momentum of winning the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament into the Chapel Hill Regional this weekend.

With postseason play beginning on Friday in Chapel Hill, the Tar Heels will open up the regional with a Friday afternoon matchup against UNC-Wilmington. The Tar Heels are the No. 1 seed in this region and the No. 14 overall seed in the tournament. They chose to play the early Friday afternoon game to give some more rest time if they win for Saturday’s night game.

After losing back-to-back ACC series to close out the regular season, the Tar Heels went 4-0 last week including a comeback win over Miami on Friday to advance to the semifinals and then beating Boston College and Georgia Tech during the weekend to capture the title.

Facing a win or go home scenario in every game of the ACC Tournament, the Tar Heels delivered by winning four-straight. Now they hope to deliver again and go back to the Super Regionals next week in Atlanta.

The Tar Heels will open the tournament Friday afternoon by sending Tyler Baum to the mound for the first game. Baum is coming off an impressive performance against Virginia last Wednesday, getting UNC a win to open the ACC Tournament.

The junior went 7 1/3 innings, striking out six batters, giving up just five hits and two runs in the win over Virginia. Baum was fantastic and gives UNC a solid ace to open up the tournament. The Hawks have yet to name a starter for Friday’s game.

Manager Mike Fox remained mum on who would start Saturday’s game, listing it TBD. The Tar Heels could be playing an elimination game if they fall to UNC-W, so keeping it up in the air may work to his advantage.

Austin Bergner has been the No. 2 guy in UNC’s rotation for more of the season and he could get the nod either way.

While UNC’s starting pitching was good for the most part in the ACC Tournament, it was their bullpen that stole the show. They were able to shut down Virginia on Wednesday night and then kept Miami scoreless for the final six innings of Friday’s game.

Per Inside Carolina, the bullpen allowed just six earned runs in 25 innings of work in the ACC Tournament. The bullpen is backed by Austin Love who has been able to come in and close the door on teams.

With UNC’s pitching starting to find it’s stride, the offense could be the big factor. UNC is led by junior Michael Busch who had two home runs in the ACC Tournament and freshman Aaron Sabato who was named All-America at the DH position.

Busch slashed .294/.447/.569 with 15 homers this season for the Tar Heels while Sabato hit .338/.446/.662 with 14 homers. The two have powered the nation’s 26th best offense all season long. The Tar Heels do have the best offense in this regional and if they show up to play, they should advance out.

As for the Hawks, they are powered by shortstop Greg Jones who slashed .343/.491/.551. UNC will have the tough task of keeping him off of the bases with his blazing speed. Jones stole 40 bases this season, good for 6th in the country.

If Jones gets on, he could create some havoc on the bases for UNC pitchers.

The winner of Friday’s game will advance to take on the winner of the night session between Tennessee and Liberty on Saturday at 4 p.m. EST.

Next. Aaron Sabato named first-team All-American. dark

For more on the Diamond Heels, please check back with Keeping It Heel.